Today, Azerbaijani Authorities placed Lebanese-Armenian prisoner-of-war Vicken Euljekjian on trial on alleged terrorism charges, reports the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Lebanese citizens Vicken Euljekjian and Maral Najarian were kidnapped together on November 10 after the ceasefire agreement reached by Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan. They were kidnapped immediately after arriving in Artsakh’s city of Shushi by Azerbaijani troops, where the two were heading to gather their belongings which they had left behind during their hasty evacuation.
Despite mounting international pressure, Azerbaijan said it would prosecute Euljekian for taking part in the Second Artsakh War as a “mercenary.” Najarian shared her experience and details from their abduction in the city of Shushi: “I thought they were going to burn us alive.”
The statement of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan runs as follows,
“The investigation established that on September 29, 2020, Vicken Abraham Euljekjian, born in 1979, a citizen of the Lebanese Republic, a resident of Beirut, initially accepted Hovak Kikia’s offer, a citizen of the Republic of Lebanon, to participate in military operations in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan as a mercenary in exchange for a material reward of $2,500. For this purpose, on the same day, with other persons as a member of an organized group, he deliberately crossed the protected state border of the Republic of Azerbaijan from the territory of Armenia outside the checkpoints and arrived in the territories where other mercenaries were also present.”
The investigation on the criminal case was initiated by the Main Investigation Department of the State Security Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan under the relevant articles of the Criminal Code upon the fact of participation of Vicken Abraham Euljekjian, a citizen of the Republic of Lebanon, and others in terrorist activities against the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan as mercenaries joined in an organized group in exchange for remuneration, has been completed.
Vicken Euljekjian was charged under Article 114.3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan (participation of a mercenary in a military conflict or military operation), 214.2.1 (when terrorism is committed by a group of persons upon prior conspiracy, an organized group or a criminal organization), 318.2 (illegal crossing of the state border of the Republic of Azerbaijan) and other articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. By the court decision arrest as a measure of restraint was chosen against him.
On May 5th, 2021 the indictment on the criminal case was approved and sent to court for consideration.”
Note that Maral has dual citizenship – Armenia and Lebanon. After the explosion that took place on August 4 last year in Beirut, Maral and her sister moved to Armenia. They expressed a desire to live in Artsakh, and a month later they were accommodated in one of the hotels in the city of Shushi. They waited until the house was put into operation, where they were going to be resettled.
When the war started, the sisters moved to Berdzor (Lachin), but there belongings remained in Shushi. After the announcement of the trilateral ceasefire statement, on November 10, Maral Najarian, thinking that she could safely take her belongings out of Berdzor, together with her acquaintance, also an immigrant from the Diaspora, Viken Euljekdjian, went to Berdzor, and then to Shushi. After that they disappeared.
Maral was released after spending four months in a jail in Baku. Her release was credited and facilitated because of the work of the ICRC, the Lebanese Red Cross, Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe and President of the Federal Council of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko, as well as all the foreign ambassadors for their efforts along with Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee of Lebanon members Hagop Pakradounian and Raffy Demirdjian.
“Azerbaijan clearly refuses to adhere to international law on due process and the rights of the accused. Any legal proceedings in Azerbaijan involving Armenian POWs, including civilians, is unlawful and does not prevent the application of international law and the return of prisoners of war,” a spokesperson for the Armenian Legal Center, which is working to free Armenian POWs, informed Zartonk Media.
The Armenian Legal Center, based in Washington DC, has partnered with the International & Comparative Law Center to file cases in the European Court of Human Rights to free Armenian POWs.